Sunisa Lee wins gold; Friday features US women’s soccer and track
Sunisa Lee extends America’s gold medal streak in all-around. A reigning world champion tests positive for COVID-19. USWNT are back on Friday.
Sandy Hooper, USA TODAY
Track and field is finally ready to begin at the Tokyo Olympics, with the opening qualifying rounds getting underway Friday. At the 2016 Games in Rio, the U.S. led all countries with 32 track and field medals.
Four medal events will be contested in the pool. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Lilly King, who won bronze in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke earlier this week, took home silver in the 200 breaststroke final, with teammate Annie Lazor getting bronze. In addition, Ryan Murphy claimed a silver in the men’s 200 backstroke.
The U.S. women’s basketball and soccer teams also will be back in action. Sue Bird and Co. will hoop it up against Japan in group play, and it will be a rematch of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup final when the USWNT takes on the Netherlands in the Olympic quarterfinals.
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The American beach volleyball duo of April Ross and Alix Klineman completed an undefeated run through pool play with a three-set victory Friday over Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink of the Netherlands to advance to the knockout stage.
Ross and Klineman dropped the first set, but rallied for a 20-22, 21-17, 15-5 victory. They’ll play next in the Round of 16, which begins this weekend.
TOKYO – For a second consecutive day, Tokyo organizers announced a record number of coronavirus cases.
Friday’s total of 27 cases includes three athletes and 15 contractors. On Thursday, organizers announced 24 new coronavirus cases, also with three athletes and 15 contractors in that total.
Since July 1, 220 positive cases have been reported by Olympic organizers. Half are of contractors who work for third parties hired by Tokyo’s organizing committee to work the Games. A total of 23 athletes have tested positive here this month, most recently with American pole vaulter Sam Kendricks announcing Thursday that he tested positive and will not be able to compete here.
The Olympic positives come as cases of coronavirus are surging in Japan. The country eclipsed 10,000 daily cases for the first time on Thursday, with a record 3,177 coming from Tokyo. The capitol city set a new record for a third consecutive day and eclipsed 3,000 cases for the first time, The Japan Times reported.
Olympic organizers have said they do not see a connection between cases from the Games and the increasing cases in Japan because participants are restricted to their accommodations and Games venues.
“We have been implementing robust counter measures on COVID-19 in that respect,” said Masa Takaya, spokesman for the organizing committee. “We are delivering the safest possible environment from most perspectives, from the perspective of participants and also from the perspective of the people in Japan.”
— Rachel Axon
TOKYO – Russian Evgeny Rylov set an Olympic record in 1:53.27 in the men’s 200-meter backstroke, beating American Ryan Murphy by .88 of a second.
The 24-year-old Russian has swept both the 100 and 200 back in Tokyo and has a silver in the 4×200 free relay.
Murphy was the defending Olympic champion in the 100 and 200. In the 100 back in Tokyo, Murphy won bronze, finishing behind Rylov and Russian teammate Kliment Kolesnikov.
— Roxanna Scott
TOKYO – American Lilly King won silver in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke Friday morning, finishing second to South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker, who set a world record in 2:18.95.
King finished .97 of a second behind Schoenmaker. American Annie Lazor, King’s training mate in Indiana, won the bronze.
King won a bronze medal in the 100 breaststroke Monday, finishing behind Alaskan teammate Lydia Jacoby, who won gold. King swept both the 100 and 200 breast in Rio five years ago.
— Roxanna Scott
TOKYO — American Caeleb Dressel swam the fastest time in the men’s 100-meter butterfly semifinals Friday, setting an Olympic record in 49.71 seconds.
Kristof Milak of Hungary was second in qualifying for Saturday’s final, finishing in 50.31 seconds.
Dressel won his first individual Olympic gold Thursday, in the 100 free. He won in 47.02 seconds, an Olympic record and the fastest time in the world this year.
— Christine Brennan
TOKYO — The U.S. men’s and women’s eight each finished fourth in their respective A finals, concluding an Olympic regatta in which the nation failed to reach the medal table. It’s the first time since 1908 that the U.S. failed to win an Olympic medal in rowing.
The women’s eight finished with a time of 6:02.78, roughly four seconds behind first-place Canada. New Zealand finished in second and China in third. The women’s placement breaks an Olympic gold medal streak — they had finished first in 2008, 2012 and 2016, a record tied with Romania.
The men’s eight crossed the finish line with a time of 5:26.75, about two seconds behind first-place New Zealand. Germany and Great Britain took silver and bronze, respectively.
— Olivia Reiner
A then 17-year-old Sydney McLaughlin stepped on the track in Rio de Janeiro as the youngest U.S. track and field athlete since 1976 to compete at the Olympics. The teenage phenom had enormous potential but little expectations. She finished fifth in her semifinal heat and failed to advance to the women’s 400-meter hurdles Olympic final.
What a difference four, plus an additional year, can make.
The 21-year-old is now the only woman in history to run under 52 seconds in the women’s 400-meter hurdles. As she prepares for her second Olympics and first as a world-record owner and prohibitive favorite, McLaughlin enters Tokyo as one of the key athletes ushering a new era of U.S. track and field.
“It’s a crazy time, so much change. I think it’s really important and really cool to be a part of it. It’s kind of just this new wave and kind of this new generation,” McLaughlin said. “It’s kind of pushing the boundaries as much as possible.”
— Tyler Dragon
Videos of Suni Lee’s family reacting to the gymnast winning an Olympic gold medal in the all-around competition quickly went viral on Twitter, with fellow Olympians, celebrities and viewers at home cheering alongside Lee’s joyful family.
“Golden reaction for a golden moment,” NBC’s Olympics account tweeted on Thursday, alongside video of a crowded room of Lee’s family and friends watching her finish in first place at the Tokyo Games.
Lee responded to the footage, which has received millions of views, on Thursday, calling her loved ones “the people i do it all for.”
“I LOVE YOU ALL,” she shared.
Her father, John Lee, told the “TODAY” show after her victory that their family was holding their breath as she competed.
“There’s no words that can express this right now,” he said.
Meanwhile, back in her hometown of Saint Paul, Minnesota, city mayor Melvin Carter and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz are both declaring Friday “Sunisa Lee Day” in her honor.
— Marina Pitofsky
TOKYO — If nothing else, Tennys Sandgren is honest about the position he finds himself in as the last hope for American tennis to avoid being shut out from the medal stand at the these Olympics, something that hasn’t happened since 1920, when no Americans entered the tournament.
“To be fair, we probably shouldn’t even be playing,” Sandgren said, referring to himself and doubles partner Austin Krajicek, who only made the U.S. team because the highest-ranked American men decided that playing an ATP 250 event in Atlanta this week would be a better use of their time.
But regardless of how they made it here, Sandgren and Krajicek could very well leave with a bronze medal. They face New Zealand’s Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus on Friday for third place.
And yet, Sandgren understands as well as anyone that a lot of tennis fans – a lot of American tennis fans – will be actively rooting for him to lose Friday.
— Dan Wolken